Jon Courtney - Background

Background

Courtney and his brother and former bandmate Andrew Courtney grew up in Reading, Berkshire, as did fellow Pure Reason Revolution members Chloe Alper and Jamie Willcox. In an interview, Courtney points to the precise moment, at approximately age 11, when he decided he wanted to be a musician, when he saw the band Nirvana on the MTV Awards in about 1991. Courtney said, "rom that point on it was like "wow!" – I was transfixed by the TV – "this is what I've got to do, there's no question." The next day I was just hassling my mum for a guitar. I have to play guitar and then I started a huge obsession with Nirvana and the whole grunge scene. So that's definitely a strong turning point for me." He credited the appeal of the moment to the "passion in the music and the passion of the audience's reaction to the music."

Courtney began playing in bands at his secondary school Reading Blue Coat School. He and his brother were involved in the punk band Gel, which was scouted and signed by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records. Uncut magazine reviewed their first (and only) album Sparkly Things (produced by Julian Standen of The Lemonheads) describing it as "dulcet adolescent vocals, and a thorough grasp of commercial rock dynamics producing an appealing sound redolent of the early Undertones". The band played Reading festival 1998. Courtney enjoyed the experience of touring and recording, and teamed up with his brother, Alper and several others to form the indie pop band The Sunset Sound, which received some airplay before the band members dissolved the band as not representing their style. The band's music was also inspired by a university project in which Courtney was involved creating new original music for the 1960s television show The Prisoner.

Along with his brother and Alper, Courtney came together with Greg Jong and Jim Dobson, whom Courtney met at the University of Westminster, to form Pure Reason Revolution. The band's name was inspired by Courtney's thesis on the nature of genius and its application to Beach Boy Brian Wilson, for which he studied Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant.

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